18 July 2010

Things I Love that Start With B

When I revamped this blog, I decided that it would also include some things that are completely for fun. You already know from The Book Fetish that I love books, but there are a few other things I'm pretty passionate about.

Today, I'm talking about things I love that start with B:  Butter London, Burberry, and Bitches on a Budget.

Thanks to Bitches on a Budget (http://bitchesonabudget.com/) I learned about Butter London Nail Lacquers (http://www.butterlondon.com/).  First, most of the colors have clever British names, which I love.  In fact, my toes are a lovely red shade called "Saucy Jack" right now, and before the night is over, my fingers will be a plummy-mauve shade called "Tramp Stamp."

My fingers are on a keyboard nearly all day long between work and play.  With the base and top coats from Butter London, the colors last longer than most of my salon manis, and that's saying something.  The fall collection in available for pre-order now, and I'm trying to decide which colors I want.

There's a collection in Butter London called 3 Free. These lacquers are free of formaldehyde, Toluene, and DBP and STILL stay on forever.  My favorite in that collection (so far) is a deep metallic gray called "Chimney Sweep."  And for those of us who aren't true Brits, there's a great little British dictionary included in the site that gives some background on the product names.  

Staying in the British and beauty theme (more or less) I'll talk about my Burberry (www.burberry.com).  First, I bought a Burberry tote that is just the perfect every day bag.  My work laptop is small, and this tote holds it and everything I would take in a purse, so I have to carry only one bag to the office.  It's not too big for weekends running errands, though I do carry a much smaller bag for nights out.   And hello, it's plaid! I love plaid.  The style is classic, and although the bag was pricey, it will last a lifetime.  So well worth the money.

But, the other thing I love about Burberry is the fashion house's new cosmetics line.   I adore makeup. I like playing with new colors, trying new products, and would love to have a job where I could play in it all day long. At the same time, I like classic looks, low maintenance make up and looks that can go easily from day to night.  So when I read that Burberry, already a favorite brand of mine, was launching a cosmetics line, I was stalking the internet for more information. 

I ordered three eyeshadows, three lipsticks, and a mascara and I love them.  I bought Trench, Khaki, and Taupe Brown eye enhancers (as Burberry calls them), and Mocha, Ruby, and Deep Burgundy lip colors. Love them.  The eye colors are neutral but provide plenty of definition.  Mocha is a nice, neutral lip color. Ruby is a true red, perfect for day or night, and the color really brightens teeth, too,  Right now the cosmetics are available in the States only through Burberry.com, select Nordstrom's stores, and Nordstrom.com.  But I love them, and will be ordering more.

And to wrap this post, back to Bitches on a Budget. Seriously. Check out the site if you haven't. Buy the book. It's worth it. This isn't a book about getting out of debt. It's about spending wisely, splurging where it makes sense, and learning to live fabulously no matter what our budget. Totally worth a read.  

Losing My Religion, Part 2

Finding Peace

As the good people of the world are in church this morning, I'm writing about why I'm not there. And why I am at peace with that decision.

I don't begrudge anyone their faith. If it works for them, that's brilliant. But the more I asked questions, the more I read, the more I could no longer reconcile my beliefs with religion.  I don't want to argue theological points here- many authors have already done that, and quite well.  Suffice it to say that the discrepancies in the bible, the arguments over its authors, and some of the basic teachings within made it impossible for me to believe in the same Christianity I had grown up in.   So I resigned my membership in the church.  I stopped praying, finally being honest with myself that I was pretty sure no one was really listening anyway. 

I still couldn't walk away from the idea of religion right away.  I explored some the old pagan traditions.  I felt like Sue Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" was written for me.  But when I was completely honest with myself, I realized I'm a free thinker.  That's the label I'm most comfortable with now.

You know what's scary?  Telling people you don't believe in god any more.  That has to sound odd to people in many parts of the rest of the world, even in many other parts of the States. But in the South, so much of life is defined around the church. The church is the earliest social network many people have.  And there's a lot of good to it. Like-minded people gathering together to fellowship and learn ways to hopefully be better people.  Among certain groups, it is simply unheard of to not go to church, or not believe in god.

I've still not said the words out loud to most of my family.  My best friend has a hard time understanding it, but she accepts it.  And I say I'm a freethinker.  I'm open to new ideas.  If something happens that proves the existence to me of a supernatural being , then my mind could be changed.

But with the few people I've talked with about walking away from religion, what I've tried to convey to them is that the same sense of peace they feel with their religion, I feel without mine.

I sleep fine at night.  It is much more comforting to me to believe that sometimes bad things happen for no good reason and we work through them and move on. I have more peace with that belief than with ones where I felt that maybe if I'd prayed just a little harder, an outcome would have been different. Because with the belief that "if you have faith, you'll get what you want according to god's plan" I felt perpetually as if I had failed in my faith.  Feeling guilty over every little thing, or feeling as if you don't quite measure up is no way to live.

I have people now who are worried for my soul.   I try to explain to them that I'm ok with where I am.  If they want to pray for me, that's fine.  I think good thoughts for people all the time.  But mostly, my beliefs are something I don't talk about. It makes people uncomfortable that I don't think like they do.  

Sometimes, I miss the idea of belief.  It made it easier for me to not be accountable to myself.  This didn't work out the way I wanted it to?  Well, must be god's will. Not the fact that I sat around and waited for something to happen rather than going out to make it happen.  A friend of mine, facing her second bout with cancer in her mid-thirties, said the other day that she doesn't know how someone could make it through what she's going through without faith.  If that gives her peace, more power to her.  I'm impressed that she can keep her faith through it.

 Another friend said recently she doesn't want to ask the questions, because she's afraid of the answers.  I told her I understood. You ask the questions, and either your faith is deepened or it is eroded. And if erosion is theway you go, it can be scary and painful.  Don't start that journey if you aren't ready.   It's a hard journey. I'm happier now than I've been in a long time. Finding my way to my authentic self, no matter the consequences, has been good for me.

16 July 2010

Losing My Religion, Part 1

Losing Faith
A few years ago, I started on a journey I had no intention of taking.  I started asking questions.  Always a dangerous thing, because the answers can be scary.

I was raised in the South. For many southerners of a certain age, this means growing up in church. There's an old joke about the three major religions in the south: Baptist, Methodist, and Football (many people say SEC football, but as an ACC fan, I'm taking license with it).

So I spent my Sunday mornings in Sunday School and Church. Sometimes we'd go on Sunday nights. Sometimes we'd also go on Wednesday nights.  Never one for it, I managed to avoid church camps, but I did the whole teen group thing.  It was always more about the socializing for me than the religious education, but I could spout the doctrines and Bible verses with the best of them.  We were supposed to believe, and as a big proponent of fake it til you make it, I played along.  I wanted to believe, because it seemed so much easier. I finally convinced myself that I did believe.

I even went to a religiously-affiliated college. Fortunately, a liberal one. We were not required to attend services, and our required religion class was from more of a historical perspective than a theological one.  When I was finally on my own, in my first job after grad school, I found a church in the metro area. You know, a good place to meet other hip, young singles and get some direction on the moral compass at the same time.   Except that for me, it was still more about the social aspect. The moral compass was nice, but nothing I didn't already know, and a hell of a lot for me to feel guilty about.  I buried it, but even then there was a little voice in my head asking why I felt guilty about things I really didn't think were wrong.  The seeds of discontent were sown, but I didn't want to explore them yet.

Then my job took me on the road and I was only home for the weekends. Church became a lot less important than being around my friends. I didn't miss it.  I didn't find myself sliding into a life of debauchery and mayhem- at least not any more than when I was attending church.  So I let it go.  Then the travel stopped for a while and I started feeling like I should go back to church, because it was what all my friends were doing. I went back to the Single adult class, but found myself bored with their shenanigans. With a few exceptions, because I didn't hang out with them all the time, it always felt to me more like a pick-up party and I wasn't one of the cool kids so I looked for something else.

I thought I found it in a class called "Thinking Christians."  And that class name was not an oxymoron. These were some of the smartest, most well-read people I've met.   A little subversive, this class challenged a lot of the status quo of mainstream protestant belief.  Most people in the class did not believe in a literal resurrection.  They were more about social justice and outreach than hellfire and damnation. It was a belief system I was much more comfortable with.  A lot more gray than black and white. A recognition that the god of the old testament comes across in many places as a misogynist, warmongering, petulant three-year-old. And that the Jesus of the new testament was much more concerned with how we treat the poor than what we do in our bedrooms. I felt like I had found my people.  For a while.  I stopped attending the church service, although I would attend the Thinking Christians class most every week. I made friends there that I still keep in touch with now, more than two years after I stopped attending even that.  But then, this deep intellectual discussion, this dismissal of a literal interpretation of the bible led to more and more questions for me.  I started feeling worse after class, not better.  Because the questions I was asking couldn't be answered satisfactorily by anything in the bible, or in a large part of what the church said it believed.   Without me looking for it, my journey away from faith had begun.

Part 2 to be posted soon.

15 July 2010

Changes are coming

I'm changing up this blog.

It is time to be more honest, more real, and sometimes, more whimsical.

I'll be updating more frequently, and about more than just a Girls Night Out.

For now, the blog name will stay the same.

I'm looking forward to the changes!